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Friday, December 15, 2017

Who Are These Evangelicals?

The Unsafe God
I cannot avoid linking to this interview, "Why Is God Not Nice?" As a writer of Christian spirituality, I am known for exploring the depths of grace, but I earned my wings with my first substantial book, Jesus Mean and Wild: The Unexpected Love of an Untameable God (Baker, 2008). When I read through the Gospel of Mark one night, I was shocked by the number of passages in which Jesus comes across as anything but compassionate. I started wondering how we might understand these passages in light of the overarching truth that God is love. Neither my book nor God Is Not Nice: Rejecting Pop Culture Theology and Discovering the God Worth Living For by Catholic theologian Ulrich Lehner is original. Many writers have tried to understand this aspect of God's nature. C. S. Lewis did that in the figure of Aslan in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, in which Mr. Beaver says of Aslan, "'Course he isn't safe. But he's good." In an era which is tempted by sentimentalism, in which God is little more than a divine therapist, we can't be reminded too often of the unsafe, not nice, "mean," and wild God who loves us in all sorts of surprising ways.
The Christmas Touch
"Why You Need to Touch Your Keys to Believe They're in Your Bag" points indirectly to the miracle of the incarnation, which we celebrate with the birth of Jesus:
Contrary to the proverbial expression that "seeing is believing," it is touch that secures our epistemic grip on reality. Everyday situations show that touch is the "fact-checking" sense. Salesmen know it well: if a client hesitates to buy a product, handing it over for her to touch is likely to seal the deal. We all like to feel our wallets in our bags, even when we just put them there.
Author Nigel Warburton then goes on to explain why touch is so important to us: "Touch brings us reassurance and certainty [and that] might run deep into what more broadly constitutes our subjective feelings of confidence." This suggests one reason we of flesh and bones have confidence in Jesus Christ: To paraphrase John 1:14 in the KJV: The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, touching us and we him—and thus "we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father," and we were thus convinced he was full of grace and truth.
Who Are These Evangelicals?
There is a lot of confusion about the term evangelical these days, to say the least. One reason is that different groups use the term narrowly, based on what they're interested in. This article gets at some of this and suggests that how the secular media understands evangelical and how we understand ourselves is strikingly different.
The Most Productive Hour of the Week
Time to start pondering those New Year's resolutions, which are all about getting things done. Recent studies show that we get the most done at 11 a.m. on Mondays. The rest of the week we're slacking, relatively speaking! So set your alarms.
Grace and peace,
Mark Galli
Mark Galli
Mark Galli
Editor in Chief, Christianity Today
P.S. In case you missed my editorial on the Alabama special election, which also includes an analysis, and yes, critique, of the way Christians left and right have handled themselves in the public square in the last 18 months, here it is.

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